The Blackfeet Tribal Council met Wednesday to discuss implementing NARCAN throughout the Blackfeet Reservation. NARCAN is a fast-acting drug that counteracts the effects of an opioid overdose and is given as a nasal spray.
The tribal council concluded that NARCAN could be administered in all tribal offices, as well as schools, hotels and its casino, Glacier Peaks. Not only will it be widely available, but all employees working in these departments will be trained to use it, giving them an invaluable tool to save lives.
“There’s fentanyl here. It’s everywhere. And I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. So if we can try to save lives, why not?” said Laura Jo Kipp, chair of the Blackfeet Gaming Commission.
Jo Kipp works closely with Glacier Peaks Casino, where there have been two recent suspected fentanyl overdoses. The casino incident is why the Tribal Council discussed using NARCAN in the first place.
“There was a second overdose that affected not only the victim, but one of the staff members. They had to be taken to the hospital for emergency services,” said Lyle Rutherford, Tribal Council business chair.
Fentanyl is so easily spread that even breathing in or touching someone who has been poisoned can lead to substance trafficking. In this case, a casino worker rushed to help a patron who had taken fentanyl, only to inadvertently ingest the substance himself by being in close proximity.
By deploying NARCAN in the field with mandatory training, the number of opioid-related deaths could be greatly reduced. James McNeely, Director of Operations for the Blackfeet Tribe, was impressed by the initiatives his community has taken.
“As Blackfeet people, we have to come together and help our young and old, those suffering from addiction, move forward. So I think we’re working on it, and it’s great to have a lot of people behind us.”